CHICAGO WOLVES (8-2-0-1) AT IOWA WILD (3-5-2-0)
NOT QUITE THE SAME SQUAD
It has been just three weeks since the Chicago Wolves rewrote parts of their record book during a 10-2 victory over the Iowa Wild at the Wolves Training Facility in Hoffman Estates, but plenty has changed for head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s squad in this relatively short span.
Let’s take a look at the group that produced 14 goals in 22 hours during the Wolves’ two-game sweep of the Wild on Feb. 21-22:
Gone: Center Morgan Geekie (4G, 1A) made two guest-star appearances for the Wolves against the Wild. He scored those four goals on four shots, collected the AHL’s Player of the Week award and skedaddled back to Carolina (NHL).
Center Rem Pitlick (3G, 1A) spent one more week with the Wolves, collected the AHL’s Player of the Month award for February and then boot-scooted to Nashville (NHL), where he has played the second, third and fourth games of his NHL career.
Defenseman Jeremy Davies (3A) stormed to the top of the AHL’s assists chart through the end of February, then earned a recall to Nashville and made his NHL debut Tuesday night — where he spent more time on the power play than any other Predators defenseman.
Center Seth Jarvis (2G) stayed in Chicago through the end of February — long enough to jump to the top of the AHL’s scoring charts with 7 goals and 4 assists — but has moved back to the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks for what could be the 19-year-old’s final year of junior hockey.
Defenseman Frederic Allard (4A) earned a recall from Nashville on Thursday and figures to make his NHL debut shortly.
These five accounted for nine of the 14 goals and nine of the 27 assists the Wolves stacked up vs. Iowa.
REGARDLESS, A SQUAD STILL LEARNING
Head coach Ryan Warsofsky doesn’t have any quibbles with his team’s talent level. He just wants his players to maximize those talents by being in top shape and playing with intent for all 60 minutes.
“This system we play is, you’re going non-stop,” Warsofsky said. “There’s no, we call it taking a breath. If we take a breath, it hurts us. We can’t get to our game. We can’t get on pucks. So you have to be in good shape. You have to be in tip-top condition. Not to pick on the younger guys, but it’s another level. We’re trying to get them to understand. To play how we have to play — and to play how the Carolina Hurricanes play — you need to be in this condition.
“We’re good…and then we get to the third period. We’ve worked on that off the ice, we’ve worked on that on the ice this week. It’s not so much punishment. It’s just, if you want to be in the National Hockey League, you have to be in tip-top shape.”
WE ARE THE WOLVES
In the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs, the eighth-seeded Wolves nearly stole the first-round series from the top-seeded Utica Comets thanks in large part to 21-year-old goaltender Jordan Binnington.
Binnington posted a 2.16 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage during that five-game series — and many members of the Wolves organization are still waiting for the only regulation goal he allowed during Game 3 to cross the goal line (but we digress). Utica went on to reach the Calder Cup Finals.
In any case, Binnington just signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the St. Louis Blues as a reward, in part, for the big-game tendencies he again displayed during the Blues’ run to the 2019 Stanley Cup. The Richmond Hill, Ontario, native won all 16 playoff games that year.
LAST TWO GAMES
- The Monsters scored two goals in the opening 13 minutes and the Wolves couldn’t catch up in the back half of a two-game set in Hoffman Estates.
- Rookie forward Dominik Bokk recorded his first professional goal in North America — set up by center Sean Malone and forward Lukas Craggs — to pull the Wolves within 2-1 in the second.
- Goaltender Beck Warm stopped 31 of 34 shots.
- Despite outshooting the visiting Monsters 39-24, the Wolves had to rally from a 3-1 deficit just to earn a point as Cleveland’s Justin Scott scored the lone goal in the shootout.
- Defensemen Max Lajoie and Frederic Allard scored their first goals for the Wolves while rookie center Ryan Suzuki tied the game in the third and rookie Phil Tomasino handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Antoine Bibeau made 20 saves in regulation and overtime and 2 of 3 in the shootout.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Yes, this is a unique season. Yes, it’s early in this unique season. Yes, the Wolves’ season will be roughly 43 percent as long as a normal year. But after providing all of those caveats, it’s still intriguing to note this year’s squad is on pace to shatter the franchise record for most goals per game. These Wolves have scored 47 goals in 11 games — a league-leading average of 4.27 per outing. The only Wolves team that has averaged more than 4 per game is the 2006-07 crew that paced the AHL with 4.14 per game.
2: Weirdly, only two of the Wolves’ first 11 games have featured any lead changes. Chicago recovered from a 1-0 deficit on Opening Night (Feb. 5) against Grand Rapids to earn a 4-1 victory. Then, the next day at Rockford, the Wolves fell behind 2-0 and 3-2 before securing a 5-4 win. But in each of the Wolves’ last nine games, the team that scores first has gone ahead and earned the win without ever trailing.
4: This is how many pro games it took for goaltender Beck Warm to earn an NHL entry-level contract from the Carolina Hurricanes. The 21-year-old Whistler, British Columbia, native was not drafted, so he signed an AHL contract with the Wolves in November. Then Warm won his first four starts while posting a 2.25 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. That inspired the Hurricanes to sign Warm to a two-year, two-way deal on March 6 that included a $50,000 bonus. But as Warm told his hometown Pique Newsmagazine: “It’s definitely nice and good to have [the contract], but it doesn’t really change anything. I’ve got to keep doing my thing and it doesn’t really change my mindset at all,” he said.
7: Twelve rookies have seen action for the Wolves this season, which includes seven players who have made their professional debuts with the Wolves: forwards David Cotton, Jason Cotton, Seth Jarvis, Jamieson Rees, Ryan Suzuki and Phil Tomasino and goaltender Beck Warm. The six forwards have combined for 20 goals and 18 assists.
10: Forward Tanner Jeannot, No. 10 in your program, earned his first NHL appearance March 2 after being a dominant force for the Wolves. He posted three goals and five assists in six games, including one goal and three assists in two games against Iowa.
34: The Wolves have played just 11 games, but 34 players already have suited up for at least one game. Last year, the franchise needed just 37 players to get through the 61 games before the pandemic brought the season to a permanent halt. For those curious about the breakdown between the Wolves’ two NHL partners, the 14 skaters from the Nashville Predators organization have combined for 99 games of action. The 17 skaters from the Carolina Hurricanes organization (including the three signed to Wolves contracts) also have combined for 99 games. Carolina prospects Antoine Bibeau, Jeremy Helvig and Beck Warm have handled all of the goaltending.
Of the 34 players to compete for the Wolves this season, nine have played in the NHL this season as well: Alex Carrier, Jeremy Davies, Morgan Geekie, Tanner Jeannot, Sean Malone, Rem Pitlick, Sheldon Rempal, Drew Shore and Cole Smith.
392: Since the Wolves started playing on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 681 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When defenseman Jeremy Davies made his NHL debut Tuesday night for Nashville, he became the 392nd player in Wolves history who also has appeared in the NHL. In other words, 57.6 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
|Sunday, March 14||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||3 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, March 19||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||5 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Tuesday, March 23||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|